Department of Geography Geoinformatics and Meteorology putting the message of World Meteorology Day into action.
The theme of World Meteorology Day in 2022 is Early Warning and Early Action. There is clear evidence that in the changing climate, the number of severe weather events are increasing. Africa and in particular South Africa is very vulnerable to severe weather events. Examples of severe weather over the southern tip of Africa in recent times are the extreme flooding caused by tropical cyclone Eloise in Mozambique and South Africa during January of 2021. Heavy rainfall was common cause in the 2021/2022 summer season with the Vaal Dam increasing in capacity to > 100%. This meant that sluice gates had to be opened and flooding occurred downstream but also causing spectacular displays as the Augrabies waterfall. The copious rainfall over the generally arid Karoo produced large outbreaks of locusts. Severe storms were also common cause in the past summer season. Several hail storms occurred resulting in damage to infrastructure and crops being destroyed.
On the 16th and 17th of March 2022, meteorologist in the Department of Geography Geoinformatics and Meteorology combined forces with forecasters from the South African Weather Service (SAWS) with the aim of improving Weather Warnings. SAWS recently implemented an impacted based weather warning system where the emphasis is on what the severe weather will DO. On the 16th of March forecasters revised the workstream of weather warnings. On the 17th of March there was a hands-on session where forecasters and students first received some theoretical background on supercell thunderstorms and they were provided with a weather radar supercell thunderstorms decision tree. They had opportunity to test the decision tree on several severe weather cases over South Africa. The laboratories in the Geography Building was put to good use for this workshop and the feedback from weather forecasters and students alike was very positive. We trust that these efforts will improve severe weather warnings in future. A follow up workshop is planned for September.